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Priests Not Bound to Pope Francis' New Restriction on Traditional Latin Mass

David Martin | The Daily Knight

In an unprecedented abuse of power, Pope Francis on Friday issued his latest motu proprio Traditionis Custodus, which restricts the Traditional Latin Mass. Against all previous decrees, the pope is now requiring that priests obtain explicit permission from their bishops before they can say the Traditional Mass in their parishes.

In this latest directive, Francis has taken “the firm decision to abrogate all the norms, instructions, permissions and customs” issued by his predecessors regarding the “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite,” known as the “Traditional Latin Mass.” With this new decree, the bishop alone will now regulate the Latin Mass in his diocese, since "it is his exclusive competence to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal." (Art. 2)

According to Francis, Catholics who are attached to the Traditional Mass express by their “words and attitudes … a rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the ‘true Church.’ One is dealing here with comportment that contradicts communion and nurtures the divisive tendency.”

Faithful Catholics are seeing this initiative as a slap in the face to Pope Benedict's 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which encouraged a wider use of the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. However, it is important to clarify that Summorum Pontificum didn't grant priests any new freedom to say the Latin Mass but simply confirmed what already was the case, namely, that priests are always free to say the Traditional Mass without obtaining permission from their bishops.

Pope Paul VI Never Abrogated the Old Mass

Though it is not generally known, Pope Paul VI, so often accused of imposing the New Mass, never forbade the Old Mass. In 1986, a panel of nine Vatican cardinals concluded that Pope Paul VI never abrogated the Mass of Pius V, nor did he grant bishops the right to forbid or restrict priests from saying the Tridentine Latin Mass. Pope John Paul II had commissioned the cardinals to look into the legal status of the old Mass, as it was his intention to bring its legality to light.

It should also be pointed out that Paul VI never mandated the Novus Ordo Mass but merely allowed it. If Pope Paul had truly mandated the New Mass, he would have specified this, but this was never done. Pius V, on the contrary, laid down the law with his subjects, saying, “We order them in virtue of holy obedience to chant or to read the [Tridentine] Mass according to the rite and manner and norm herewith laid down by Us.” He said: “Let Masses not be sung or read according to any other formula than that of this Missal published by Us” mandating that “This new rite alone is to be used.” (Quo Primum, July 14, 1570)

Nowhere in the 1969 Missale Romanum does it mandate that the New Mass must be said. The document merely mandates the publication of the new missal, ordering that “the prescriptions of this Constitution go into effect [are validated] November 30th of this year” and that it “be firm and effective now and in the future.” But there is no mention of its use.

The decree then validates and makes available the new missal for those who want it, i.e. it is an indult, and as such, may never be imposed on the Church. A Traditionalist priest of the Society of St. Pius X, Fr. Francois Laisney, points out that “Pope Paul VI did not oblige the use of his [new] Mass, but only permitted it.... There is no clear order, command, or precept imposing it on any priest!” According to Fr. Laisney, the same applies to subsequent decrees on the New Mass, including the 1971 Notification from the Congregation of Divine Worship, of which he says: “One cannot find in this text any clear prohibition for any priest to use the Traditional Mass nor an obligation to celebrate only the New Mass.”

Needless to say, priests do not need permission to say the Traditional Latin Mass nor are they the least obliged to honor Traditionis Custodus, since it is nothing more than an errant attempt to shackle holy Tradition. For the pope is using this as an iron-clad lever to strengthen episcopal surveillance over faithful priests who wish to be loyal to Christ and His Church.

Motu Proprio Fosters United Revolt Against the Faith

What is absurd, yes even hypocritical, is the manner in which Francis has issued his new directive under the guise of fostering greater ecclesial unity, since this ruling in fact creates ecclesial disunity by restricting the liturgical formula given by Almighty God to unite the Church with a common bond of liturgy and language. What Traditionis Custodus does is to strengthen the unity of modernists and heretics who seek to bring Tradition to an end so that they can move forward with their new "synodal" church of man. It indeed fosters a united revolt against the Faith.

What Francis needs to remember is that the duty of the pope and bishops is to lay down the laws of God as handed down through Tradition and not to start their own Pharisaic "traditions of men." He can take it or leave it, but the ancient Latin Mass as promulgated by St. Pius V in his papal bull of July 14, 1570, remains the official Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Let Francis ponder the admonition of St. Pius V concerning the perpetual mandate to the celebrate only the Tridentine Latin Mass, where he says:

"Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Would anyone, however, presume to commit such an act, he should know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul." (Quo Primum, July 14, 1570)



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